Speeding is aggressive driving behavior, endangering every person on the road. The empirical data is everywhere. Statistics from local police departments, highway patrol units, federal and state roadway and transportation agencies, and the insurance industry, all report speeding plays a major role in fatal roadway accidents. The NTSB calls speeding one of the most common factors in motor vehicle crashes in the United States.
Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, Robert L. Sumwalt, said “You can’t tackle our rising epidemic of roadway deaths without tackling speeding. Speed kills.” A 2017 report from the National Transportation Safety Board indicates a need for more programs to bring the risks of speeding into public view. No nationwide programs focus on the risks of speeding.
Transportation Statistics Annual Report
- Nationwide, twenty-seven percent of 2016 traffic fatalities,10,111, involved crashes in which one or more drivers were speeding
- The number of speeding-related deaths in 2016 was 4 percent higher than that in 2015, while total traffic fatalities increased by 5.6 percent
- One-third of motorcyclists in fatal crashes were speeding
- 19 percent of passenger car drivers in fatal crashes were speeding
- 15 percent of light-truck drivers and 7 percent of large truck drivers were speeding in fatal crashes
Speeding Is a Factor in Less Than 1 Percent of Fatal Accidents in Nebraska
In 2017 there were 210 fatal injury crashes in Nebraska and 17 speed-related fatal injury crashes. Although these numbers are impressive, fatal crashes account for only a fraction of the total number of roadway accidents statewide. In 2018 there were 12,259 accidents causing injury.
In 2017, Omaha ranked eighth in LendingTree’s “worst drivers” in the 75 most populous city metro areas in the US, in 2018 Omaha was listed as the worst. As a state, we went from 6th in 2017 to number 3 in 2018, partially thanks to speeding citations. Statewide traffic fatalities rose an average of five percent from 2016 to 2017.
Death Due to a Speeding Crash Can Affect Families Forever
On paper, less than 1 percent of our fatal accidents are caused by speeding, yet sadly our newspapers and TV news stations are still reporting stories of tragic personal loss.
- The Omaha World-Herald reported that a young man died in a high-speed, single-vehicle crash in Omaha a few years ago. According to local police, the driver was just 19 years old. Eyewitnesses say the man was exceeding the speed limit, and police state this was a factor in the crash
- KLKN TV reported a multi-vehicle speed-related crash causing the death of a 23-year-old Lincoln man
- NET news reported the deaths of 4 teenage girls in a single car accident. Local police believe speed was a factor.
The Nebraska Department of Transportation’s 2018 report on traffic crash facts tells us:
- One crash occurred every 15 minutes
- Forty-nine persons were injured each day
- One person was killed every 38 hours”
Is a Human Life Worth 8.39 Minutes?
In a 50-mile car trip, increasing the vehicle’s speed by 10 miles an hour (from 55 to 65 miles per hour) will get you to your destination only 8.39 minutes sooner. Slowing down can save a life.
Nebraska allows passenger and trucks to travel 75 miles per hour on rural freeways and interstate roadways. We have has one of the highest speed limits in the United States. Only 7 states, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming—have top limits of 80 miles per hour.
A car traveling at only 25 miles per hour will need 85 feet to come to a stop. As the speed of the car increases, the stopping distance increases exponentially. Therefore, a vehicle traveling 60 miles an hour, with perfect road and weather conditions will require 305 feet to stop.
Looking Toward the Future
The Nebraska Strategic Highway Safety Plan for 2017 to 2021 is aggressive, with a goal to save 268 lives during the five-year span. Setting the bar higher than the previous reporting period (2012 to 2016) the Nebraska State Parole could possibly top the 2016 number of 5,800 speeding citations.
For the past decade, Nebraska’s highway safety metrics have been right in line with national data. In 2011 Nebraska had a fatality total of 181, then trending upward for a five-year period showing a 26.4 percent increase with a 2015 high of 246 fatalities. This report explains that plans are being put into place that will:
- Expand on current strategies, for example(“Click It or Ticket”, and “You Drink, You Drive, You Lose”)
- implement additional strategies
- Develop new and innovative strategies to facilitate a downward trend.
The Impact of Speed Limits on Accident Data
A research study at Penn State revealed some interesting findings. Setting speed limits just 5 miles lower than engineering recommendations will result in a “statistically significant” reduction in injury crashes. Conversely, when the speed limit is set 10 miles per hour or more below engineering recommendations, the accident rate actually increased.
Vikash Gayah, assistant professor of civil engineering, tells us drivers stop paying attention if the speed limit is lowered by 10,15, or 25 miles.
“The researchers found that vehicles were two times more likely to obey the speed limit at locations with higher posted speed limits set at 50 mph or 55 mph compared to the base case of less than 50 mph, and four times more likely to obey when the posted speed limit was between 60 and 70 mph.”